Saturday, March 3, 2012

Another sign of an early spring: the Box Stores are flowering three weeks early

Look at that! It's impressive and somewhat frightening that they are able so easily to jump almost a month ahead of schedule. I actually bought three one-gallon Ericas.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Telly and I did a little under canopy adjustment today

One of the least attended to relationships in most gardens is the interface between the lowest branches of the canopy and the "floor" of the garden. For the last two years I've tried to address this aspect of the garden. Over time, those low branches grow sometimes down into large shrubs or understory trees creating awkward situations. Othertimes their growth just produces too much shade so that the groundlevel plants either under perform or stretch unnaturally away from the canopy towards the light.

Today Telly and I removed a number of White Pine branches that were dipping into a lovely line of Lindera obtusiloba. We selectively removed some of the lower limbs of the old Cedars in China Valley that were stressing some old Joseph Rock tree peonies. And we did some redemptive pruning of Staphylea bumalda rosea and a few Fraxinus.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Prunus mume 'Okitsu-akabana' is a lovely late season mume

Camellia Forest claims it has the largest flowers of any P. mume they have ever seen.

This is only a test. No one has bled on the card.

Okay, Brad swears that dried aloe juice colors up to look like dried blood. I didn't know this so I'm going to learn through this experiment designed to test that claim. Clearly now the sap has a yellow, gunky, slimy look. 

Betty Lett cleaning Helleborus in the Camellia Collection

We had a new volunteer today, actually two because Eugenia brought a friend and she's interested enough to come back next week. That makes 7. If we add the two more new recruits that Tanya emailed me about today that makes 9! Oh my goodness. If there's a down side it's just that I won't have any excuses; everything will have to be perfect!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

We're having our piles processed this week

That means grinding and screening. This cool piece of equipment is a screener. (As in screened topsoil) Sometimes we have our topsoil screened but this year I think we're screening compost. And we're grinding up the green waste pile, huge logs, and coarse chips into fine mulch. Because the winter has been as warm as it has been, we've used unprecedented quantities of mulch, so it will be good to be resupplied.

Today was kind of a yellow day: Lindera obtusiloba, Musa accuminata, and Cornus mas

There's been a lot of pink and white going on lately so, although yellow isn't my absolute favorite color, I was happy to see it. The Lindera and the C. mas are in the Asian Collection. The bananas were produced in the tropical room in the greenhouse. Brad brought four to lunch and I snagged one. They were really good. I have to admit I was surprised. I was ready to show disingenuous enthusiasm but the one I ate really was the best banana I've had since Hawaii. The texture could maybe have been better, but the flavor was incredible.

If you aren't local you can ignore my shameless flacking for my walks through the Asian Collection and the Lahr Native Plant Symposium

The first walk will be next Sunday (see below). The plan was to space the three walks so that we could monitor the progress of spring. Normally the 11th of March is early spring but it's impossible to sit down mid-winter and predict what'll be happening on any given calendar date in spring in even the most predictable seasons...... The 11th looks like it's going to have all the early plants and a good number that don't normally flower for another few weeks. . It looks like all of the early magnolias will be flowering and according to all forecasts, they won't be burned by cold. Plus there will be some cherries, cornus, an assortment of early woodland perennials, and lots of camellias. One feature of the garden I love this time of year is the great view of the Anacostia River. It positively sparkles.

The Lahr Symposium, it's 26th incarnation, is coming up at the end of the month. I'm going to have a busy spring. If you've never attended, it is, of course, a great one day program. The vendors are like a super bonus. It's a chance to buy plants you might normally have to go online for. Last year I bought three Conradina verticillata 'Snowflake' which I am liking very much. I grow a number of species in the Florida garden but this is the first up north! I have a weakness for sub-shrubs/evergreen perennials. Someone had nice Trillium cuneatum, so I had to buy those as well. Normally the Lahr is held at the Arboretum, but because we've still undergoing renovation (the Administration Building) it is, for the second year, in Beltsville. After the event, just about everyone agreed that is was a preferable location: more parking, better vendor area, larger venue. I guess I don't even know whether it'll return to the USNA next year.

Tour: Spring in the Asian Collections
March 11, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
April 1, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
April 22; 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Meet in the Asian Collections parking area
The Asian Collections are some of the Arboretum’s most dramatic and diverse. The steep terrain slopes sharply downhill from the heights of Hickey Hill to the quiet banks of the Anacostia River, where plants from China, Japan, and Korea cover 13 acres of hillside. Horticulturist Chris Upton leads three tours to reveal and identify the rapidly changing spring flora. The walks include steep and unpaved trails. Fee: $15 ($12 FONA) Note: Each tour date requires a separate registration and fee. Registration required.
Tour highlights:
March 11: Early Spring: The line between late winter and early spring is different each year, making this an especially interesting time in the garden. If winter still prevails, there will be pheasant’s eye, wintersweet, panda flower, Helleborus thibetanus, plus a variety of woodland wildflowers, early shrubs, and a few magnolias. If spring comes early, see all those plus more – maybe Magnolia zenii, a rare Chinese species, or hepaticas in the Japanese Woodland.
April 1: Mid spring: The magnolias and cherries will add masses of pink throughout the garden; camellias will be flowering along with corylopsis and many perennials, including irises, primroses, and columbines.
April 22: Late spring: Now the garden is alive with color, including roses, rhododendrons, azaleas, redbuds, and loropetalum. Perennials in bloom include Asian Jack-in-the-pulpits, peonies, and irises. It is likely that the rare dove tree, Davidia involucrata, will be flowering this weekend.

Lahr Native Plant Symposium: Native Plants: Inspiring New Directions
March 31, 8:30 am – 3:30 pm
Beltsville Area Research Center
The 26th annual Lahr Symposium explores the work of landscape architects, authors, and gardeners who were inspired by native plants to change their career paths to pursue unique callings. From journalist turned naturalist to researcher turned native fruit aficionado, these individuals explain how native plants have influenced their work. Learn how native plants can foster creativity in the garden and inspire new insights into nature and landscape design. Registration fee includes lunch and early access to the Native Plant Sale. Fee: $89 ($71 FONA) Registration required. For complete program details, including a map and directions, see the Lahr Symposium brochure or call 202-245-4523.

: This year the symposium will be held at the Beltsville Area Research Center at 10300 Baltimore Blvd, Beltsville, MD.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Joan is cleaning and planting Pieris floribunda seeds that Barbara brought back from her trip to the Smokies

The North American native Pieris is a bit smaller than P. japonica and, according to Mike Dirr somewhat less susceptible to spider mite damage. That's a good characteristic because the golden stippling of spider mites makes Pieris mighty unsightly. It's also reputed to be pretty easy from seed so I'm thinking that there'll be a lot of small Pieris around come next year.

The seeds I planted last week are beginning to germinate. Okay, the Clarkia purpurea and the Hieracium villosum are the only ones up, but it's only been a week. The fact that both packets were stuffed with seeds while some of the others had less than 10 seemed like good indicator of potential success. Plus the fact that the Clarkia is an annual and the Hieracium is a weed, or so some folks would say.

Actually, the Clarkia doesn't like heat or transplanting but I'm sure I can get a few out there without killing them and because it's so early they ought to be able to flower before it gets too hot. The Hieracium is one of the "good" hawkweeds. Actually, I like most hawkweeds despite their tendency to self seed......"enthusiastically." This one, as it's name suggests, is covered with soft silky hairs. The plants are tight mounds of silvery foliage. Very nice. They bear the typical yellow hawkweed flowers but they are not really necessary.